8 Useful Japanese Products and Where to Find More

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Writer’s Profile

Misty Fujii is a Canadian who moved to Osaka, Japan, in 2019 and married her Japanese sweetheart. In 2022, they had a baby and moved to Fukui for the clean country air. She is a DJ who teaches English part-time and writes to share Japan with the world. She gets excited about collecting vintage vinyl records, food from all countries, travelling, and renovating her traditional Japanese house.

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Forget the kawaii mascots and neon lights; Japan’s real magic lies in its everyday inventions. I know that I’ll never forget being pleasantly surprised by heated toilet seats! Turns out, that’s just the tip of the innovation iceberg. Get ready to dive into a world of problem-solving gems hiding on Japanese shelves. We’re talking multitasking kitchen gadgets, automated bathtubs, and, yes, those life-changing heated seats. These are the life hacks you never knew you needed!


Benoît Prieur, CC0 1.0 DEED via Wikimedia Commons

Ready to level up with 8 useful Japanese products? We’ve got the lowdown on what they are and where to snag them (and more), so get ready to wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

1. Robots 

Robots are probably one of the first things you think about when imagining Japan. But robots in Japan aren’t just a sci-fi fantasy! They’re deeply woven into the fabric of everyday life, helping people in countless ways. These mechanical marvels are incredible, from adorable food server bots and robots that clean to the tireless bots on factory lines. 

Collision Conf, CC BY 2.0 DEED via Flickr

One of the best examples is Pepper, a pint-sized humanoid with big eyes and even bigger potential. Born in 2014, Pepper is a revolutionary workhorse, helping people by providing customer service in retail, assisting patients in hospitals, or acting as an engaging teaching assistant in schools. And that’s just the beginning! Robots are on the rise, and while it doesn’t look like they’ll be taking over the world (like a sci-fi movie!), they will be instrumental in helping us live in it. 

2. Portable Washing Machines

In space-conscious Japan, bulky washing machines often take a back seat. Laundromats exist, but hauling laundry isn’t always convenient or budget-friendly. Enter the portable washing machines! These are the perfect solution for doing laundry with little space. There are sink superheroes that hook right up to your kitchen or bathroom faucet, which are ideal for quick hand washes. And if you need more power, a folding machine that fits in the closet can pop out and into your sink in a flash to wash the grubbier pieces. These are also excellent solutions for people who want to travel a lot!

3. Shower Rooms With a Drying Function

Heated toilets are excellent and all but the true unsung hero of Japanese homes is in the bath/shower room. Many Japanese homes have multifunctional shower rooms that are compact and full of features. We’re talking automatic bathtubs (more about those in a minute!) and a drying unit built into the ceiling through the ventilation system. They typically have a fan, heater, and even a dehumidification feature! 

You might be wondering why, and like many useful Japanese products, it has a variety of benefits. The fan chills you in summer, the heater warms you in winter and dries your clothes (hello, space-saving!). Plus, the dehumidifier fights mold like a champ in Japan’s humid climate. If you’re renting an apartment in Japan, this is something to look out for!

4. Automatic Bathtubs

Let’s dive deeper into the wonders of Japanese bathrooms: automatic bathtubs! Forget fiddling with faucets and testing the water with your toe. With a simple button press, these futuristic tubs fill themselves to your desired level and temperature. A cheerful jingle lets you know when the water is ready to hop in. Plus, some tubs boast fancy features like built-in filters for family-friendly soaks, invigorating jets, and temperature control so your water never gets cold. Add some bath powder or aromatherapy oil for your own home spa!

5. Washlets

Regarding porcelain thrones, Japan’s washlet toilets take the crown! Heck, there’s a even a whole museum dedicated to toilets (and what goes in them). First, enjoy a welcoming, toasty, warm seat, and then finish with a gentle bidet, leaving you fresh and clean. Depending on how decked out yours is, there might be options for a drying fan, self-cleaning modes, and, best of all, music! What’s more, these toilets are also eco-friendly, saving toilet paper. You’ll wonder how you ever used a regular toilet after this. 

6. Jackets with Built-In Fans

Japan is known for having sweltering summers and countering the high temperatures with many cooling products. One of the most useful has to be jackets with built-in fans. They help construction workers beat the heat, hikers stay breezy on the trails, and theme park enthusiasts conquer even the steamiest rollercoasters. No more sweaty commutes, clammy concerts, or wilting at outdoor events! These jackets are like portable personal AC units, keeping you cool and comfortable. It seems like such a simple concept, but I had never seen one before coming to Japan!

7. Kotatsu Tables

Japanese homes can run on the chilly side in the wintertime. Still, naturally, there’s a useful product to act as a solution! It’s a table, first and foremost, but it packs an extra punch with a heater on the underside. Add a cozy blanket between the tabletop and its base, and you’ve found yourself the warmest, fluffiest fortress you could imagine! And with the practicality of having a firm tabletop to work, play, or eat on. And most importantly, these are useful for family bonding time. The low table encourages closeness and conversation, creating a unique atmosphere that regular tables can’t match. 

8. Portable Rice Cooker Lunchbox

Lunchtime in Japan gets seriously leveled up with lunch boxes that are also portable rice cookers. Sad sandwiches are a thing of the past; now you can feast on perfectly cooked rice, piping hot veggies, and even a juicy fish fillet, all fresh and steaming hot from your personal purse-sized kitchen! Plug it in, add your ingredients, and get ready to dine on home-cooked greatness. They’re cute, compact, and fit right in your bag! 

Places That May Have Even More

Forget scouring endless websites and stores! Here’s your shortcut to Japanese goodness. Both these stores are top-notch for souvenirs, too, so prepare to be amazed (and tempted!).

1. Don Quijote

Wally Gobetz, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED via Flickr

Enter a labyrinth of aisles overflowing with everything you could possibly imagine and more at Japan’s mega discount wonderland. Known as “Donki” to those in the know, these massive stores are bright, loud, and open 24/7, just as convenient as the goods they sell. You’ll find everything from cosmetics, groceries, appliances, clothing, and much more. Some of the best things I’ve found there on my hunts include cheesecake-flavored Kit-Kats, makeup that cools your skin, and a Hello Kitty designed washlet. 

M Canzi, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED via Flickr

2. 100 Yen Shops

These are the equivalent of a dollar store, and just like the name says, (almost!) everything is 100¥! From adorable stationery to quirky kitchen gadgets, these stores are like a wonderland for bargain hunters and anyone looking for something unique. Fluffy cat ears, headbands, and snacks are sitting next to mini Zen gardens. You never know what you’ll find, but that’s half the fun! 

Mr.ちゅらさん, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED via Wikinedia Commons

These shops are also lifesavers for travelers needing a phone charger, travel-sized toiletries, or a cute souvenir without breaking the bank. Sure, you may not find expensive appliances like washlets or kotatsu tables. Still, you will find plenty of inexpensive but practical things to make your life easier! I love my tiny battery-operated washing machine, star-shaped onigiri rice molds, and handheld electric fans. 

Did any of these gadgets surprise you? Are there any you’re dying to try? While you explore Japan, keep your eyes open for all the useful products you come across daily! 

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Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
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